My brother has used Samsung Galaxy smartphones for a few years. He gets a new one every year. This year he will get two new Samsung Galaxy Note 7s, thanks to the exploding models and the resulting recall and replacement program.
Why doesn’t my brother use an iPhone? He thinks Samsung models and iPhones are pretty much the same thing, and he’s invested both time and money into the so-called Samsung ecosystem, and doesn’t want to bother to learn iOS 10, or pay for apps he already bought.
I know what you’re thinking. Android users buy apps? Who knew?
What’s. The. Difference.
My little brother is tech savvy, knows his way in and around most Linux servers, but uses Windows PCs, and carries (or, will, once the replacement model arrives; the ones that Samsung promises will not explode in your pants) a Samsung phone. Obviously, I carry more Scottish genes than my brother, but he raised a good issue.
There’s not much difference between premium Android smartphones and iPhones. Explode-in-your-pants feature aside, he might be on to something. Google just released their new smartphones, made by once giant, now near death HTC. They’re called Pixel and Pixel XL. The former is slightly larger than an iPhone 7 and the latter is about the same size as an iPhone 7 Plus.
What does this look like to you?
If Google wanted to design an iPhone 7 knock off it would be called Pixel. Hardware specifications are impressive with a Quad HD screen for the XL and a quad-core CPU. Google says it’s the best smartphone camera ever, but it probably doesn’t matter much since all these high end smartphones from Apple, HTC, Google, Samsung, and LG have cameras so good we can’t tell much difference anymore.
That brings me to smartphone applications. Android device makers have an issue because almost every non-Apple smartphone runs a version of Android, and most have access to the same applications, and for most of us as smartphone users, the apps are the same.
Facebook is Facebook, iPhone or Android phone. Instagram is Instagram. Twitter is Twitter. Maps is mostly Maps (choose your favorite). There may be some differences between the same apps on each platform– iOS games tend to run better– but most of the top 100 or so applications have decent versions on both the iPhone’s App Store and Google Play Store.
So, what’s the difference?
Remember, differentiation is a key component of successful product marketing and if all premium smartphones look like an iPhone– and most of them do– and all the basic apps most of us use are the same– and most of them are– then why pay extra money for an iPhone? Or, why pay extra money for a Samsung Galaxy S7? Why even bother paying extra money for Google’s new Pixel line when other Chinese smartphone knockoffs are available for a few hundred less, and run mostly the same applications as the high end models?
Forget the fact that technology journalists still don’t know the difference between price and cost (they’re not the same). Forget the fact that most knockoff smartphone makers have no customer service, no Genius Bar, no built-in OS upgrade system, almost no accessories, no resale value, and are cesspools for malware (as are most Android smartphones), but consider only the price.
iPhones are priced higher. Nearly everything else is priced lower. Yet, they all do much the same thing; calls, camera, apps. And the calls are the same quality, the cameras are comparable, and the apps about the same on each platform.
Why pay the extra money for an iPhone?
To keep it simple and straightforward, the differences are highlighted above. Support and service is easier with an iPhone than a Chinese knockoff phone (and even a Google Pixel; have you ever talked to a Google employee?) thanks to so many Apple stores. Malware is almost non-existent on iPhones but thrives on every model using Android. While iPhones are priced higher, they also have excellent resale value which helps to mitigate the ongoing costs. One can argue that iOS is easier to use than any Android (the clutter is amazing). And security updates and upgrades are massively easier and frequent on an iPhone vs. any Android model that sells in substantial numbers (which leaves out Google’s Nexus and Pixel lines). iPhone apps, thanks to a limited line of hardware and internally designed CPUs, tend to perform better than comparable apps on Android devices.
See? Differentiation. So, what’s that worth to you?